A while ago the IT service vendor Logica opened a centre focused on innovation at its office in Nacka Strand, Stockholm. The centre, called Spark Innovation Centre, is one component in Logica’s work on innovation management and this centre in particular focuses on the area of what is called the Next Generation Workplace.

The purpose with Logica’s Spark centres is to diffuse innovation and innovative solutions, and at the end of the day spark new ideas to all its visitors. The company now has several centres (see fact box below) which have proven very valuable.

— Our company has always had innovation in its DNA, and the word Innovation is one of our three values together with Open and Committed, which underlines that innovation is one of our focused areas. The Spark centre in Sweden is a further proof of that and brings many new “aha” experiences to our visitors on how they will work in their workplace in a not to distant future, stated Markus Närenbäck, Innovation director at Logica Sweden.

Stimulates creativity and facilitate knowledge transfer

A Spark centre psychically consists of one or two major rooms, often in connection to a larger meeting area in the office. The rooms are designed to stimulate creativity and make knowledge transfer as efficient as possible. There is a presentation area together with stations where visitors can interact and get a good understanding for innovative solutions provided by Logica.

The centres are visited both by employees from Logica as well as customers. Customer visitors represent both customers from IT and technical departments as well as business departments.

Stockholm in the forefront

The centre in Stockholm focuses on the area Next Generation Workplace. There is a clear trend towards convergence between different platforms and media. At the same time there is a “human latency”, when information is not reaching the right person at the right time because of information silos and incompatibly in platforms.

But now, these challenges can be overcome. To give a few examples of how it could work, in schools students now  work on individual laptops and put together and store their work online. They can report their homework online from home and the teachers communicate results back to their parents.

Using modern devices like the IPhone, teachers can arrange for real-time voting in the classroom on current topics etc. In hospitals, doctors making their round, can by a tablet PC and position awareness, get access to the right medical journal depending on what room they enter or even what bed they are closest to.

Logica and innovation management

Logica has already from its founding in 1969 worked with innovation as one cornerstone of its business. This has lead to many today well known innovations like mobile messaging, RFID (Radio-frequency identification, the use of an object – typically referred to as an RFID tag – applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves and prepaid billing.) These are all areas where Logica, on its own or in joint-ventures, pushed the limits of what is possible and in some cases changed our perception on how things work.

Employees are an important source of innovation

One important way of creating seeds for innovations is harvesting ideas from the employees. Today, Logica has operations in many different countries, with different backgrounds and cultures. Logica recognizes the potential in this, benefiting from the diversity. All employees therefore have easy access to a suggestion box on the intranet, where co-workers can help in the screening process by giving the thumbs up or down to submitted ideas. The idea then passes through a number of steps including an expert panel.

The ideas that are judged to have the highest potential will be presented to the Global Innovation Council, consisting of innovation directors from each of the major country operations within Logica.

Ideathons – an innovation beehive

In addition, there is also the concept of “Ideathons”, where an office for a day transforms into an innovation beehive and all employees can participate in activities to set the mind in motion and be creative. All in all, in the idea process more than 2200 ideas have until today been submitted online and through different activities.

Collaborative innovation is the name of today and Logica also cooperates with universities and other entities in an innovation ecosystem to provide and benefit value mutually. The participants in this are universities, interest organisations and others. On a local level, Logica has staff with background from other places spinning around innovation, like Vinnova (The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems) and research academies.

Global innovation venture partner competition

Each year Logica hosts a global innovation venture partner competition. In short, all Logica countries nominate innovative partners and chose a winner on a country level. The criteria are that these partners work with innovative ideas and solutions that are new and could have a very great impact on the market. Of all the winners one group wide winner is then chosen. For the two last years, the Swedish country winners has also been chosen as the Group winners. Not a bad result for a competition that has got 500 nominations each year. The Group winner of 2010 was Eurostep, a company that provides a collaboration hub for complex development projects. The features of the hub, named Share-A-Space, makes it possible to very quickly get started as it is based on open standards. The solution also has a very good management of intellectual property rights, which is essential when companies that collaborate in one project can be competitors in another.

By Gustav Widerström, Business development manager, Logica Sweden

Logica Spark centres – diffusion of innovations

Logica has about 39 000 employees in 36 countries. It provides business consulting, systems integration and outsourcing services. Logica has seven Spark centres. Each centre usually focuses on a particular area where those country operations are in the forefront.

Bangalore, India – Focus on Mobility

Chennai, India – Focus on Intelligent Transport Systems

London, United Kingdom – Focus on face recognition, smart metering, social networking and more

Amstelveen, The Netherlands  Focus on Mobile Payments

Lisbon, Portugal – Focus on energy and utilities

Stockholm, Sweden – Focus on the Next Generation Workplace

Copenhagen, Denmark – Focus on Security and Healthcare solutions

About the author

Gustav Widerström is business development manager at Logica, Sweden. He works with portfolio management and proposition development, market intelligence, innovation and knowledge management. From 2009 he is managing Logica’s Cloud initiative.